Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) link full genome data to a handful of traits. However, in neuroimaging studies, there is an almost unlimited number of traits that can be extracted for full image-wide big data analyses. Large populations are needed to achieve the necessary power to detect statistically significant effects, emphasizing the need to pool data across multiple studies. Neuroimaging consortia, e.g., ENIGMA and CHARGE, are now analyzing MRI data from over 30,000 individuals. Distributed processing protocols extract harmonized features at each site, and pool together only the cohort statistics using meta analysis to avoid data sharing. To date such MRI projects have focused on single measures such as hippocampal volume, yet voxelwise analyses (e.g., tensor-based morphometry; TBM) may help better localize statistical effects. This can lead to 1013 tests for GWAS and become underpowered. We developed an analytical framework for multi-site TBM by performing multi-channel registration to cohort-specific templates. Our results highlight the reliability of the method and the added power over alternative options while preserving single site specificity and opening the doors for well-powered image-wide genome-wide discoveries.

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Keywords Bioinformatics, ENIGMA, Genomics, imaging genetics, Magnetic resonance imaging, mass univariate, meta-analysis, multi-channel registration, multi-site, Neuroimaging, Protocols, voxelwise
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Journal IEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
Jahanshad, N, Faskowitz, J.I. (Joshua I.), Roshchupkin, G.V, Hibar, D. (Derrek), Gutman, B.A. (Boris A.), Tustison, N, … Hansen, N.K. (Narelle K.). (2019). MULTI-SITE META-ANALYSIS OF MORPHOMETRY. IEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics. doi:10.1109/TCBB.2019.2914905